Somewhere around 1986, when Mom was considering the move to Florida, she and I came down to look for a house. The real estate agent took us to a home painted a chocolate brown—not the prettiest shade compared to its pastel Floridian neighbors. Once inside, we found it had very low ceilings, again rather usual after the cathedral ceilings we had been touring. But the owner, an older gent, a widower, had the windows and doors open, and a lovely breeze was blowing gauzy curtains around rather romantically.
We walked out to the small deck, and were startled to hear the high-pitched and very distinctive call of a peacock. We looked up, and saw one perched in the tree overhanging the yard.
Delighted, we asked if it was his pet. He looked like he wanted to spit. “Damn nuisances,” he growled. “They’re all over this neighborhood. They crap in your yards and make the most godawful racket. I’d like to shoot ’em, but my neighbors would have my head.” As we talked, the bird flew down into his yard, and immediately put up his tail in a grand display. The man cursed again and went inside.
Mom and I were thrilled. The house was not particularly suited to our needs, but the peacock was a definite draw. As we left, we saw several others in the neighborhood, both peacocks and peahens, walking in the streets, nestled under trees, perched on rooftops.
After we moved to Florida, we made frequent visits to our favorite peacock enclave, showing it off to visiting friends as if it were a delicious secret. In fact, it wasn’t a secret at all. The neighborhood was at war with itself over the birds, according to the local newspaper. Half the residents wanted them exterminated, or at least relocated; half wanted them protected and cherished. They’ve had half-hearted relocation campaigns over the years, but they either keep coming back or the remaining birds repopulate. There’s still a thriving peacock community there today.
I happened to drive through the area today, and snapped a few shots. Here, then, are some India Blue Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, happily making pests of themselves in Palm Bay, Florida: